WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN)—Incessant rain and wind didn’t put a damper on the enthusiasm of hundreds of delegates as they marched to meetings with their senators and representatives on Capitol Hill yesterday during the National Bike Summit.
According to the League of American Bicyclists, more than 400 meetings took place. Industry and advocacy leaders were armed not only with an ask—that lawmakers continue to support bicycling by preserving funds for Safe Routes to School, Recreational Trails Programs and Transportation Enhancements in the next transportation bill—but with detailed economic data for their district and state, including number of bike shops and manufacturers based in the area as well as a list of recent trail and road improvements.
The numbers were collected by the League and provided in a package to Summit participants to help back up their claim—and drive the point home—that bikes mean business.
Andy Clarke, president of the League, said he got the sense that most delegates got to meet with their House and Senate members this year and not just their staff.
“You have done your job today superbly,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told the crowd assembled at the Senate Dirksen building last night after a full day of lobbying on the Hill. “I have been having my colleagues come up to me all day. No one’s complaining. You did an outstanding job…people are talking.”
Delegates from Colorado said that they met with staff and congressmen who were “happy to see us.”
“Overall, everyone is realistic about the political climate and said ‘we’re going to do everything we can to help,’” said Maggie Thompson, advocacy director for BikeDenver.
Charlie Revard, owner of The Bike Line with two stores in Indiana, had never attended the National Bike Summit before. But he said he plans to encourage others back home to come.
“The support was really good. We walked away feeling positive about our meetings. I think it’s hard to communicate what this is about without being here,” Revard said. “But our being here presenting facts made a difference. Small voices make a difference.”
The Summit ended this morning with a ride that departed at 8:30 a.m. from Capitol Hill in honor of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and in memory of those killed in the Tucson shooting. Giffords is a regular rider and member of the congressional bike caucus.
For photos from the Summit, go to the BRAIN Facebook page.